When minor children are involved in a divorce, the parents must submit a Parenting Plan to the court as part of the divorce process. When the divorce is finalized, the terms of the Parenting Plan become orders of the court. What happens if you want to change something in the Parenting Plan down the road? Can you modify the plan? If so, what is the process for modifying your plan? To answer these questions and more, a Murfreesboro child custody lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby discusses what you need to know about modifying your Tennessee Parenting Plan.
What Is Included in a Tennessee Parenting Plan?
The overall goal of a Parenting Plan is to provide a roadmap of sorts to help both parents continue to parent the children post-divorce. While the parties can include additional terms, Tennessee Code Section 36-6-404 provides guidance regarding basic issues that should be addressed in a Parenting Plan, such as:
- Creating a schedule that sets forth, in detail, when the child will spend parenting time with each parent during the school year, summer break, and holidays.
- Deciding who will have day-to-day and major decision-making authority.
- Deciding who will pay for things such as medical insurance and expenses, day care, and extra-curricular activities.
- Setting the amount of child support one parent will pay to the other.
- Determining how much contact the non-residential parent may have with the child and how that contact may occur (telephone, computer etc.)
- Providing an outline for how disputes will be handled.
Can a Tennessee Parenting Plan Be Modified?
Yes, a Parenting Plan can be modified in Tennessee; however, you may need to meet certain conditions before the court will consider your request for modification. How difficult it will be to modify your Parenting Plan will depend on several issues, including whether the other parent agrees and precisely what you want to change.
How Do I Modify My Tennessee Parenting Plan?
Only a judge can officially modify your Parenting Plan. As such, you will need to file a petition with the appropriate court asking to modify the plan. If the other parent does not oppose the modification, the court will typically approve your request as long as doing so remains in the best interest of the children.
What Happens If the Other Parent Does Not Agree to the Modification?
If the other parent opposes your requested modification(s), the process becomes more complicated. In that case, what you are trying to modify also becomes more relevant.
Tennessee uses the terms “Primary Residential Parent (PRP)” and “Alternative Residential Parent (ARP)” to refer the parent with whom the child lives most of the time and the parent with whom the child has parenting time, respectively. If your requested modification involves issues other than changing who is the PRP, the standard used by the court is less difficult to meet. You will need to show a change of circumstances warranting the modification; however, that change could be something as simple as one or both parents working different hours that make the current parenting time schedule impractical.
If your goal is to change the PRP and ARP, you will need to convince the court that there has been a change in circumstances that materially affects the children’s well-being. Understandably, judges are hesitant to change a child’s primary parent (and home) without good reason. Although the court can refer the parties to mediation anytime the parents do not agree to a requested modification, referral to mediation is even more likely when parents cannot agree on who should be the Primary Residential Parent.
Contact a Murfreesboro Child Custody Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about modifying a Tennessee Parenting Plan, consult with an experienced Murfreesboro child custody lawyer at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible. Contact the team today by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.
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